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January 31, 2013

Grove City Country Club gets check for its damaged trees

PINE TOWNSHIP — Chemical giant DuPont has sent Grove City Country Club a $240,047 check to settle a suit the club filed over trees allegedly damaged by an herbicide.

“We will withdraw the lawsuit against them when the check clears,” said Jack W. Cline, attorney for the club.

The club’s claim was one of the largest DuPont had received stemming from the use of Imprelis, Cline said an attorney for DuPont told him.

In addition to the money, DuPont agreed to remove and dispose of 56 dead trees and contaminated soil; guarantee another 32 damaged trees for two years, provided a tree care program is attempted to try to save them; and guarantee against any more damage to existing trees through the end of the year, Cline said.

The Pine Township club sued E.I. duPont de Nemours and Co., Wilmington, Del., on Dec. 24 in Mercer County Common Pleas Court alleging breach of contract, negligence and unfair trade protection.

It said the weed killer Imprelis killed or damaged evergreen trees - some of which topped 80 feet tall - and would result in costs of more than $100,000 to remove trees and contaminated soil, discard them - Imprelis-treated trees and grass clippings cannot be composted or mulched - and line the holes with charcoal to help prevent the spread of the chemical.

DuPont had the suit moved to federal court Jan. 18 and called the action virtually identical to others filed nationwide over the use if Imprelis, which is no longer sold.

Cline said the suit was filed to try to speed up settlement negotiations.

“The lawsuit apparently got DuPont’s attention,” he said.

Imprelis had been touted as an environmentally friendly herbicide for killing broadleaf weeds, woody species, vines and grasses on non-food use sites including trails, wildlife management areas and golf courses.

It turned out to not be so friendly to trees, particularly Norway spruce and white pine.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which banned Imprelis in 2011, DuPont received thousands of complaints that Imprelis killed or damaged trees.

DuPont recalled the product and set up a claims process for people who used it and believed they suffered losses as a result.

DuPont said Imprelis “poses minimal risks to people or pets.”

The club said it bought Imprelis in the winter of 2010-11 and applied it on various areas of the golf course in 2011.

DuPont investigated the damage and said it would take responsibility for the damage to trees, the club said.

The club’s claim was one of the largest DuPont had received stemming from the use of Imprelis, Cline said an attorney for DuPont told him.

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